I am learning to become more independent and confident in doing things that I feel I could not have completed without the aid of cadets

5 February 2019

Cadet Lewis Bowman is 12 and attends Tenterden Detachment - he is currently training for his 1 star. His mum has also started at the Detachment as will be doing her Basic Instructors Course soon.

Here’s what he said:

I have passed my basic training and am going to attend a first aid training weekend soon. This will help me as my dad is very ill, if anything happens to him I will be able to help him.

I’m currently at school and I have just taken my GCSE options. I picked history and geography, media and music. I am keen to join the Army; I would like to be a paratrooper

How do you think you’ve benefited from being in the Army Cadets?

Since I have joined the cadets I have gained more confidence in myself. It does not matter who you are, once in the cadets you become part of another family who help and support you. We see each other around school and meet up at lunch. My best friend in cadets is 3 years above me in school, we are always mucking around. Age does not matter, gender does not matter, and the other cadets do not judge me.

Why did you decide to join?

When I started secondary school I was getting bullied. I am not a confident person and found it hard to stick up for myself. It got to the point that I was suffering with bad anxiety. I refused to go to school and started to spend more time in my bedroom. I did not want to be around anyone including my family.

Not long after my 12th birthday my mum got in contact with the Kent Army Cadets in Maidstone, she explained what was going on and that I would like to join, on the next parade night my mum took me to cadets. I was told that I could not join till I was in year 8 and aged 12.

What are your favourite ACF activities and why?

I enjoy physical training with my fellow cadets as it's really fun and nothing like doing physical education at school.

Have you faced any challenges in life that the ACF has helped you overcome?

The cadets have given me confidence in myself. I have friends that I know will not judge me, that are there for me. I am learning to become more independent and confident in doing things that I feel I could not have completed without the aid of cadets.

“Fun, friendship, action, adventure” – do these describe your time in the ACF?

My first weekend away with the cadets was the Christmas one. This was great fun. We got to go swimming, had a disco and also to on ringos at the ski slope in Folkestone. We meet other cadets from the B Company.

Do you think you’d have got the same benefits from joining another youth organisation? If not, why not?

No, if i was at the local youth club people would still bully me, people don’t mix with everyone one else and I would have stopped going. In the cadets you achieve things not only in yourself but also within a team. Every night is different and even though we learn it’s always fun.

What difference do you think your friends and family have seen in you since joining the ACF?

My confidence in myself and me doing things to help out at home

Can you tell me about a time in the ACF when you really challenged or surprised yourself?

I was in the top 5 shooters on my first time with a weapon.

What are you most proud of / or what’s been your best moment since joining the Army Cadets?

Completing my basic training and seeing how proud my family are of me.

If you hadn’t joined the ACF what would you be doing now?

Sitting at home on my PS4 playing games

Anything else you’d like to add?

Being in the Cadets is not about fitness or fighting. It's about learning new skills - plus I am allowed to do weapon handling on lots of types of guns which is great fun.